Game Changers presenter Di Dougherty discusses her love of golf
Last Updated: 10/06/15 3:02pm
Di Dougherty has been involved with golf for most of her life, and here we find out how her love of the game has evolved.
Di has played a huge part in Sky's golf coverage over the years, and has continued her successful career in front of the cameras for the Golf Channel as well as presenting Game Changers on Sky Sports.
The multi-talented 11 handicapper, who is married to three-time European Tour winner and Sky Living For Sport ambassador Nick Dougherty, also had the privilege of conducting the opening and closing ceremonies at last year's Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
From her earliest memories of hitting the golf course in north Wales, representing her county and the players she most admires, Di took time out from her busy schedule to tell us what makes golf so appealing.
What is your earliest memory of playing golf?
DD: It was in north Wales at Rhos-on-Sea Golf Club. My parents have a house that backs onto the 16th fairway there, and I can remember running out as a six-year-old with a hickory-shafted seven-iron and playing the par-three 15th hole over and over again with Tom Greenwood – brother of rugby legend Will. Occasionally, Tom and I would be a little naughty and play the 16th (a par-four) as well. Unfortunately, that seven-iron went missing when my mum moved house and I’m still trying to find it.
What is your handicap, and how often do you play?
DD: I’m currently playing off 11. I got down to six when I was 17 years old, and I represented Cheshire Ladies. So I need to do some practice and get down to single figures again.
At the moment I play two or three times a week in the summer. I admit I’m a bit of a fair-weather golfer, so in the winter I only play once every two weeks on average. I’m a member at Stockport Golf Club, which is my home course in the north west. I’ve been a member there since I was six. My family live just around the corner, and my two sisters and my brother all play there.
Which players do you most admire?
DD: I grew up watching Seve and Nick Faldo on the television. My mum was pretty obsessed with Faldo so I became a huge fan of his. I met him for the first time about seven years ago and I literally couldn’t speak because he was my idol growing up.
It's also hard not to admire Rory McIlroy. With seven victories in the last 13 months, the world No 1 has impressed everyone around the globe. I admire his talent, demeanour, his honesty and the way he is helping others through the Rory Foundation.
What are your strengths and weaknesses on the golf course?
DD: I have a good feel around the greens. I think, because I started at such a young age, I got a good groove going in my short-game. I can imagine shots and I’m quite creative around the greens. My putting is usually quite consistent, but it’s my driving that lets me down unfortunately. Sometimes I’ll have to take irons off the tee if I’m feeling anxious. I’m also improving with my hybrid clubs at the moment, which helps my long game.
Do you suffer from first-tee nerves?
DD: I suffer them, no doubt! I’d much rather have a camera in front of me or be in a studio environment. If nobody is watching on the first tee I’m usually okay, but if there are people around you can sometimes lose the ability to think straight and you forget what your body is doing! A bit of practice before a round helps that, which we rarely do of course!
What is your biggest golfing achievement?
DD: I had a hole-in-one on the second at Rhos-on-Sea. It was 151 yards and I was 14 years of age, I hit a four-iron and just holed it. I’m also proud to have represented Cheshire Ladies for a few matches, and it’s great to be on the honours board at Wentworth. Two years ago I won the annual ladies’ stableford competition there and that was a big thrill for me.
Have you set yourself any targets this year?
DD: I’ve set myself a target of getting down to a handicap of nine by the end of this year. I’ve got quite a busy summer of golf, but when I get invited to an event, that’s when I realise I’ve got to practice. I’ve got a couple of big days in Scotland in June, so I need to get on that range.
What is the best thing about playing golf?
DD: I've had so many special times growing up on the golf course, playing family competitions or just six holes in the evening with Mum and Dad. It's an uplifting sport, it gets you out amongst nature and it's definitely good for clearing the brain. (That's if you're not playing in a comp!).
I love the social aspect of golf and meeting so many people from different walks of life. I think it’s a wonderful sport for females to be involved in, because there usually aren’t that many ladies involved in pro-ams or corporate golf days, so there's an opportunity to beat the men! It’s also a great way to stay fit, as you’re walking between four and five miles each round – depending on how straight you’re hitting it!
I also love the travel involved and playing wonderful courses all over the world. I had the privilege of going to Pebble Beach for the last US Open there, so I’d love to go back and play there and Spyglass Hill too. But my favourite venue is the Old Course at St Andrews - we got married up there so it brings back good memories. I’ve played it a handful of times and my best score was 11 over.
And finally, who would make up your dream fourball?
DD: It would be Lydia Ko, I would love to see her skill. I would also like to include the Tiger Woods of 2000, and finally I'm going to throw my husband Nick Dougherty in there because he always makes me laugh!